Family friends refer to the well-dressed residents of Hamburg in Germany as the ‘Chicy Mickey’, in fact, they should reserve this nickname for Munich’s inhabitants. Perhaps the locals do not buy top-end designer labels but the main streets of this Bavarian city are exclusively lined with the likes of Louis Vuitton, Belstaff and lesser known local but still eye-wateringly expensive fashion boutiques. Not only are the streets lined with sartorial gold but so too are they strewn with Chinese and Russian tourists, and this is, I imagine who are funding the stores. Most of the international luxury fashion houses have begun to slow down their expansion of bricks and mortar stores on mainland China, using flagship stores to maintain the core brand message on the ground but realising that stores elsewhere are the money makers as Chinese and Russian tourists save money on their purchases by claiming the VAT. Winding my way up to the fairytale summit of Neuschwanstein Castle (the one featured in the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) I was shocked that even the smallest of souvenir outlets bared the Global Blue signs, the company who processes the VAT refund.
For me, the ubiquitous luxury labels were of no interest; the one that stood out beyond compare was Globetrotter. Now, I do not mean the gorgeous luggage maker, but a four storey outdoor extravaganza. I am a sucker for specialist stores and this was my heaven, even Bear Grylls would be hard pushed not to find all he needs on his adventures in this store. However, it was not the scale of the store or its endless products-there are apparently so many things I never knew I needed for my travels-that impressed me. At specialist stores the staff are invaluable when imparting advice on the gauntlet of products available, but in the end the proof is in the pudding and Globetrotter goes beyond all outdoor stores by enabling customers to test the products under real circumstances. What do I mean by that? Well, if you seek a kayak, before settling on one you can try as many as you like on Globetrotter’s indoor lake. Looking for a ski jacket which will help your poor blood circulation? Then try one on in their Arctic chamber! Whilst I was in store a customer was pushing a waterproof and Wellington boots through the ultimate inspection by standing in a water chamber whilst jets blasted water all around him.
I really could live in the Globetrotter store: there is an exercise bike for you to test bike gear, an area providing coffee, toilets and camping food which sounds like it has just arrived from the kitchens of Michelin Starred chefs. Even if you are not ‘in to’ outdoor pursuits you really must take a look at Globetrotter whilst you are in the neighbourhood visiting the Deutsches Museum; if anything, you can grab a coffee whilst the kids have a free session on the climbing walls.
Address: Isartorplatz 8-10, 80331 Munich, Germany (exit using Isator S/U-Bahn station).